“Delilah S. Dawson has woven a charming and warm tale that is sure to delight readers of any genre.”
Galaxy’s Edge: Black Spire is one of those little, unsuspecting gems of a book since it really isn’t expected to make a big splash in terms of canon. The fact that it is “tied in” to Disney’s Star Wars theme parks already puts up a warning sign that this is just a piece of merchandise to promote the park. However, this is very much not so. Delilah S. Dawson has woven a charming and warm tale that is sure to delight readers of any genre. It bears the trappings of sci-fi but really could just be a story that takes place here on Earth. There is minimal space travel or advanced tech in the backdrop and it is very different than any Star Wars book I’ve read before.
Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge – Black Spire | By Delilah S. Dawson
Black Spire is a pseudo-sequel to Dawson’s first Star Wars novel Phasma, as it focuses on the spy Vi Moradi and the turncoat First Order captain, Cardinal (now going by his birth name, Archex). The novel starts with both Vi and Archex healing from grievous wounds. Vi was interrogated by Archex (when he was still Cardinal) and Archex almost died at the hands of Captain Phasma. They are both at first unprepared to work with one another. Vi still has nightmares of being interrogated and Archex isn’t fully on board with the Resistance. He realizes the First Order is bad but doesn’t want to run to another organization so quickly.
Vi and Archex’s mission is to go to Batuu, a planet on the edge of known space and establish a base for the Resistance after the New Republic and Resistance fleet have been decimated by the First Order. It really is a daunting task that General Organa gives Vi, but she believes in her as Vi is her best spy. They are also joined by Pook, a repurposed work droid who is beyond rude and annoying. He’s obviously written that way for comedic value but it gets excessive after a while.
Immediately, things go awry as Vi and Archex’s clunky transport is shot down in the atmosphere and crash-lands in the forests on Batuu. Vi and Archex wake up even more injured and with most of their supplies stolen. Luckily, a kind humanoid named Salju pops out of nowhere and takes Vi to the Black Spire Outpost. This may seem too convenient but Salju is truly a kind soul and they were headed to Black Spire anyway, so it makes sense that their arrival was seen. We learn that Black Spire is run by a nutty crime lord named Oga, who also runs the town’s cantina. She makes the rules ‘round there and if the rules are broken, there will be trouble….
Vi’s first goal is to recruit people to the Resistance and we are reminded of Leia and her allies’ desperation. They are so low on Resistance members that Vi’s task is to start completely from scratch, without any base from which to work. Every being counts, but you can’t help but feel a sense of helplessness- especially when Vi’s new scrapper friends want no part of the Resistance from the get-go. Vi takes a job as a scrapper to buy back the supplies stolen from her ship. Her boss at the junkyard is a kindly mystic named Savi, who was friends with the late Lor San Tekka. Savi and his friend Ylena are very much believers in the Force and serve as a source of strength for Vi.
Vi cuts a deal with Oga to get her stuff back and use the sacred Batuuan caves as a base for the Resistance if she retrieves a valuable item for Oga from the caves. Vi is much smarter than Oga’s thugs and avoids almost all of the booby traps Indiana-Jones-style and gets the valuable necklace.
The First Order quickly finds out there is a Resistance spy on Batuu and sends a cruel, sociopathic Lieutenant named Kath to investigate. Kath foolishly only brings 12 Stormtroopers in what might be the biggest military miscalculation in the history of the universe! He almost catches Vi but she manages to evade him (at least for a little while). Hopelessness envelopes Vi as her plans to establish a base seem to go up in smoke, but as Ylena says, the Force has taken a shine to Vi, and she amazingly finds two kyber crystals in the scrapyards. It’s almost like a sign that the Force is with her, despite not being Force-sensitive. Like the statue of Mary crying tears of blood, Dawson uses the will of the Force as a religious miracle to re-energize her.
As the story continues, Vi gains three allies who may seem to be worthless at first, but prove themselves extremely useful, reaffirming Leia’s belief that every recruit can help the Resistance. Vi stands up for a Chadra-Fan named Kriki in town being abused by her xenophobic boss. She helps her quit and even though she is timid and shy; she proves invaluable to Vi’s group as Kriki is a genius with electronics and tech. Vi also meets a young human named Dolin, who comes from a settlement on Batuu that is the Star Wars equivalent of an Amish community with no advanced technology. Dolin isn’t the sharpest vibroknife in the draw, but his sense of wonder and adventure make him similar to a young Luke Skywalker and his heart is as pure as aurodium. He finds himself to be an excellent team player.
Finally, Vi meets a crazy smuggler named Zade in the cantina. He is a lazy doofus and frequently gets drunk but has a way about him that inspires others. He is a natural “motivational speaker” and people in the cantina listen to him because he has a personal grudge with the First Order. Vi saves him like she does with Kriki and he reluctantly joins the team. By the will of the Force, despite being a clown, Zade proves just as integral to the Resistance as Dolin or Kriki.
Vi is eventually captured by the sadistic Kath and he briefly tortures her, but Vi’s new allies hatch a creative and ingenious plan to save her, kick the First Order off Batuu AND still keep the planet viable for a Resistance base. The ending is NOT what I expected, but it is adrenaline pumping and satisfying.
A Sparkling Success- Without Technology’s Help
Vi, in general, is very smart, funny and relatable. We learn in Phasma that she has an eidetic or perfect memory, but strangely this is never once mentioned in Black Spire. Archex learns throughout the book that even though he enjoyed the complacency of his First order life; everything he was told was a lie. He tries to kiss Vi as the two grow close but Vi politely spurns his advances and we learn another interesting thing about Vi: she has no sexual feelings for anyone of any gender. The Star Wars galaxy (under Disney) is extremely open to LGBTQ persons and I think it’s wonderful. Being gay is considered to be something that nobody bats an eye at. Vi is asexual and her brother is gay and has a husband. The galaxy is an accepting rainbow of sentients!
I also am amazed at how Dawson keeps to the spirit of Star Wars NOT being science-fiction, but truly science-fantasy. Technology and advanced science don’t always play a part in this book. Even at the beginning, the doctor who treats Archex and Vi says, “for all our technology, as you know, medicine is still an imperfect, messy science.” (“I bet,” said Padmé Amidala.) However, I am somewhat baffled on why the Resistance doesn’t give Archex an artificial lung. They can do that, right?
My favorite line in this book had me silently cheering in the part of my brain that loves Star Wars. During the battle against the First Order, a Stormtrooper tells Archex that he betrayed them. Archex’s response was priceless: “only from a certain point of view”.
This novel breaks a lot of misconceptions about Star Wars books in the fact that it doesn’t have to be a war amongst the stars. War can still be satisfying and fought in a tiny town on a tiny planet full of dirt and primitive weapons. However, the characters are far from primitive in their personalities and you will fall in love with their bravery, humor, and aptitude. It teaches that even the smallest of sparks can ignite a fire that can free a galaxy.
In a super rare occasion for me, I give Black Spire 4 ½ out of 5 Death Stars.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge – Black Spire by Delilah S. Dawson is published by Del Rey Books and is available to buy NOW!
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Max Nocerino is a new addition to the Future of the Force roster. He is a passionate Star Wars fan and loves the literature of the galaxy far, far away. Follow him on Twitter @MaxN2100 where he channels his passion frequently!